October: The System

Today I’m going to give a better layout of the star system, from the sun on out to the mysterious hypergate that offers humanity the stars. If you like it, do please consider dropping a dollar or two on my Patreon! Doing so will help ensure I flesh it out into a fully usable setting!

At the heart of the system is the local star – it’s a little older than Sol, but it’s a lot smaller and cooler, with untold billions of years left on the Main Sequence before it starts to show signs of aging. It isn’t the kind of star you’d expect to find habitable worlds around, much less multiple planets loaded with life – they’re too prone to flares, usually. Luckily for the people here, there was a much, much older civilization that did some stellar engineering and stabilized it so that it’s nice and quiet.

All four rocky worlds sit in the relatively small habitable zone, with an asteroid belt between the third and fourth worlds. By now, they’d have all been tidally locked, but the same precursors who stabilized the star took care to keep the planets spinning; indeed, they’re all synced to the same rotational period, kept stable by the artificial moons that orbit them.

The innermost world is warm, with storms constantly sweeping across low-lying oceans and verdant landmasses, the poles locked in modest icecaps. It’s one of the least-populated of the inner worlds, the empire having deemed it too difficult and unpleasant to settle properly; six city-states are now growing on the largest landmasses, spread across the surface and each one home to a rough spaceport and growing research communities.

The second world is mostly pelagic, with a few scattered islands and one major continent breaking the surface; it’s also the one taking the longest to recover from the empire’s fall, as this was where the leaders retreated toward the end. The marine habitat they hid in is a collapsed wreck now, destroyed by their own in-fighting and refusal to accept that they were losing the struggle, but a dozen small submarine nations and three surface nations are spreading out, discovering the precursor relics lost in the mud of the ocean floor and the plantlife growing across the continent. They’ll have tensions over territory soon enough, but for now there’s room.

The third world is the homeworld of the empire and, by extension, humanity as a whole. Having teetered repeatedly on the brink of environmental collapse and planetary extinction, the construction of an orbital ring and a trio of space elevators barely let people squeeze past the danger, moving everything dangerous off-world. Now, over a hundred nations have grown up like resilient weeds in the aftermath of the empire, some better and some worse than the rest, and the moon itself is the site of international research and exploration as humanity tries to uncover its secrets.

The asteroid belt between the third and fourth world is pretty much all rocky debris, material left over from when the precursors disassembled a planet to build the moons around the other four worlds. Why this world was disassembled is anyone’s guess; perhaps it was a lifeless planet, or maybe it had more metals and rare elements than any other world in the system. As it is, the rocks left behind show little sign of what they once were, but they’ve made ideal sites for low-gravity research stations and habitats, some of which have become independent in their own right, and others of which have allied with nations of the third and fourth planets.

The fourth world is cool and dry, with only around 40% of the planet covered in water and large, rolling plains broken up by the occasional mountain range; a single supercontinent covers one face of the world, with a few dozen volcanic island chains disrupting the ocean. Despite the relative aridity, the world was extensively worked as an agricultural center by the empire, and the dozens of nations that have formed in the aftermath of the fall largely continue this tradition, feeding much of the system through a variety of means.

The second belt divides the rocky worlds from the giants, and it shows signs of still being in a natural state; iceballs, metallic boulders, and rocky conglomerations of rubble abound, giving ample motivation to the prospectors and explorers who roam among the rocks and build stations in the dark. Here, too, are numbers of precursor relics; things ranging from ancient power storage devices that still hold their charge to entire derelict stations of unknown purpose.

The largest gas giant is a turbulent world wracked with storms larger than any of the inner planets, but precursor habitats have been found drifting in the clouds, unaffected by the weather; two have been colonized by humanity, while the six largest moons are each host to colonies that survived the empire’s fall and now look farther out into the dark. Strangest of all is the dark sphere that floats in the eye of a particularly massive storm, strange glyphs appearing and disappearing over the course of months. A few claim that glyphs are a countdown, and others swear they’ve seen a doorway open into the sphere on occasion.

Next out is a smaller, icier giant; it has a pair of moons locked in counter-balanced orbits, staying opposite each other around the ice giant itself. Both are home to colonies become independent nations, and all of them have a keen interest in researching the strange fluid atmosphere of the giant – a gaseous material that can replace oxygen, but won’t allow for an open flame.

Last of the worlds is a gas giant with nearly fifty small moons, each one now host to a colony peering out into the darkness beyond their orbit. Some are free, others still tied to their founders, and all of them scan the void for clues to where the precursors went. A few have discovered hints out in the dark – large structures that block the starlight, farther out than any human craft has ever traveled. They also discovered what may be the greatest marvel of the precursors: the hypergate.

The hypergate orbits at a gravitational resonance point behind the outermost giant on its orbit, a precursor relic of incredible age; each of the four faces it presents houses an octagonal space filled with a shimmering curtain of darkness. Each one links to another star, elsewhere in the galaxy – portals that humanity strains toward, looking outward with a need to understand and explore. The first tentative passages have already taken place, the hypergate remaining stable even when colony-scale fleets of ships pass through.

Humanity now sits poised to seek answers to questions that they’d never have thought to even ask, not long ago.

The future awaits.

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October: The System

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